The Tale of Atlas & Prometheus The fables of Ancient Greece may be a little taller than Greek philosophers led people to believe, however their proverbial validity is irrelevant. As with any ancient tradition it was the moral of the story that was meant to be passed from generation to generation. My dogs have a very special place in my heart and in my life. As a matter of fact the choices I’ve made that have led me here have been because of the parental responsibility I chose to have with these critters. Unbeknownst to me four years ago, the name I bequeathed upon my Rottweiler, Atlas – was only foreshadowing his calling in my life quite permanently. Same goes for Prometheus, the name I placed on that ‘lug-head’ of a dog precedes the reputation of the infamous Prometheus, God of Fire. You see, when I got Atlas I came to a point in my life where I was tired of my mindset and behavior. I was tried and true to continue finding myself someone or something to admire, fall head-over-heels for, and consequently distract myself from personal demons and struggles. At that point, if it wasn’t men, then it was some other unhealthy, dangerous, and destructive form of self-medication. Nonetheless, my goal was to find a healthy distraction for a change. Change the cycles that I’ve already created in my short time on this planet. A distraction that helped me, find myself without losing everything in the process. I may have only been twenty-three years old when Atlas came into my life, but I knew that my life was anything but stable and it wasn’t going to change any time soon. The truth is, I feared that reality and I feared conquering it alone. I knew there were trials to be had, and I wanted - No, I needed a K9 companion to keep me strong through it all. Oh there were trials alright. From lousy scum lords, earning less than my bills in a plummeting economy, to frightening health problems, and living in a Ford Explorer for months at a time are only a few experiences on our list. Many told me having my dog was an added stress, but why would I get rid of my dog during a rough patch when I got him in the first place to keep me
sane during those rough patches? I knew what I was doing, and my responsibility wasn’t to those people. It was to my dog. These experiences weren’t just trials, because I unfortunately know what trials are. These were what my Father used to call character building experiences. Where life brings you to a point that you look yourself in the mirror and ask, “Do I really want to keep doing this bullshit?” When I have a little 6-week bundle of Rotti joy running around my feet, willing to open doors, roll-over, run in circles, lay, shake, speak, fetch, and protect every fiber of my being; you’re damn right I’d like to see another day of his antics. Atlas is my boy, because he did just that. He protected me from myself during some of the hardest times in my life and he’s only turning 4 soon. Just like the tale of Atlas, my boy has kept my world on his back during times that I’d rather see it plunge. He has kept my back strong, by making his even stronger. I am forever grateful. Now, Prometheus had a bit of a different entry into my life – already a few years old and a rescue from a horrible situation that created a terrified and seriously aggressive dog. I hadn’t been looking for a dog, but I was worried that Atlas was not getting enough mental attention and needed a play buddy. Therefore, when Prometheus (then Roman) entered the shelter I was employed for, I haphazardly took him home as fast as I could. His lovable face was one that my heart could not ignore. I had no clue what his triggers were, or if he had any. I just knew he loved my Atlas, and that was enough for me – at the time. His random introduction into the lives of Atlas and myself opened up doors I would have never before imagined walking through. The level of significance of this chance placement does not go unseen. Prometheus may have loved Atlas and me, but he had a temper, and that dog was not afraid to show it to women, men, or other dogs. When he got in his tantrum – my voice went unheard. He got our family into some damn near terrifying experiences, luckily – no animals or passer-byers have been eaten during the conditioning of this dog. For the period of time that I had shared my ‘city-life’ with Prometheus I was only managing his behavior. In no way was I giving him the time or attention to modify and adapt his behavior to be socially acceptable. I just avoided his triggers and kept on moving. Again, I am no fool. It did not pass my minds’ eye that Prometheus and Atlas were not getting the attention and work their brains needed. It was becoming ever clear that my dogs were not meeting their full potential – and boy, what potential indeed! Now remember - Prometheus, the God of Fire betrayed his father’s demand and introduced fire to the humans who needed a little guiding light and motivation, in order to continue on to their successful destinies. Just as stubborn as a bull dog stalking a young woman or little dog and ignoring my every beckon? Perhaps. However, it ended up being my fear of his probable aggression that minimized his ability to achieve his true potential!
Prometheus, to me is the epitome of this type of spiritual fire. This dog made me realize that my current lifestyle was nothing near what my ‘kids’ or I needed and changes had to be made in order to give them what they need. Funny, that mentality got me into so much trouble before, but now my commitment – it was altruistic. Selfless. The result is slight of a miracle. Where I am at today, is because of my dogs. I have only dreamt of being off the grid. I thought it was a fantasy this life on an island, living in peace and genuinely earning my karma while being able to work my dogs daily. The right environment for me. I always imagined the life I live now – but it was these dogs and my dedication to them that made it reality. You know what motivated me to write this little blog about my dogs? Today, I took the boys to work with me. Sometimes Promo sits next to me or sometimes Atlas sits next to me. Either way they both enjoy their spots and relish the ride. We’ve spent a majority of our lives traveling in vehicles and I know they have come to love ‘going for rides’. Today however, I saw a certain emotion within the eyes of my Prometheus. Now don’t get me wrong, I see emotion in those doggie personalities all the time albeit jealousy, anger, sadness, or happiness. However, today – Prometheus was shedding a little something that I haven’t seen before. Gratitude. Would you believe it? I look over my shoulder and this dog is sitting on the seat as if he were human. Back legs sprawled out in front of him, tail slightly curved under as if sitting on his “butt”. His face was ever so gently melted against the window, accompanied by his standard strands of drool - and he was staring outside, taking a deep “sigh” of a breath every so often. We were driving through one of my many favorite commutes throughout the island, just past South Beach towards Cattle Point Lighthouse on San Juan Island, Washington. It was early morning, and there was a slight fade of a sunrise peeking over the horizon. This dog was, quite obvious to me, staring out over the ocean and savoring every second of the view. He wouldn’t look away. Perhaps we engrave our emotions and personalities on our dogs and I can’t deny that he has seen me get lost in that view many days before but I will continue to say I witnessed a sense of appreciation in his daze. After long moments of staring at my dog with tears swelling in my eyes; he propped his head up as if knowing I was staring at him, rolled over towards my seat, met eyes with me, farted, and then plopped his head in my lap. These dogs have come so damn far, and they have helped me to do the same. -Raymond (Ace) Schneck